Monday, May 23, 2011

Yellow Poplar Weevil

Plants are actively growing and that means that insects are out to eat them. It’s frustrating to be unable to reach a tree’s canopy when you see something interesting going on up there. This Tuliptree was showing damage to the majority of its leaves, but the nearest leaf was thirty feet above my head.

Fortunately, trees come in many sizes. If you can’t reach into the tall trees, look down to find a small one.

Here are signs of feeding, so there should be an insect near by. Many insects feed at night and conceal themselves during the day. The best way to find leaf feeding insects is to search down the petiole until you reach the stem and then continue down the stem until you reach a good hiding spot.

At the base of the new growth, I find Odontopus calceatus, the Yellow Poplar Weevil. That seems logical, since it’s eating a Tuliptree, AKA Yellow Poplar.

The Yellow Poplar Weevil eats from the bottom of the leaf and eats everything except the upper layer of leaf cells. Each small feeding area is roughly circular or oval in shape. The single layer of uneaten cells soon dries and falls away, leaving an opening through the leaf.

Weevils have amazing snouts. Most people never see the snout because of the small size of these beetles. It would really be something to have weevils grow to June Bug size.

This individual was pretty tolerant of my intrusion, but soon moved off to find a more secure location. The adult weevils will soon be laying eggs on the leaves. The larvae are leaf miners and will leave feeding tunnels across the surface of the leaves. I’ll have to look for those later on.


  1. Very interesting and thanks for posting it..Your posts are excellent! I actualy thought of you the other day when I saw some ants attending some aphids..thanks to you , I actually knew what was going on!For once!;)

  2. Thanks for the comments, Michael. I try to present a mix of topics just to show that you're liable to find anything if you just get out and look. I know you're already motivated to explore the world around you, but some people think going outdoors is that quick dash from the front door to the car. It would be nice if they would just slow down and look around.